Yesterday I reviewed Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1, the third chapter of the Superdoom mini-arc of Superman:Doomed.
Today I am reviewing Action Comics Annual #3, the last chapter of the Superdoom section. Written by Greg Pak with art by a cadre of artists including Ken Lashley, Aaron Kuder, Jack Herbert, Will Conrad, Pascal Alixe, Cliff Richards, and Julius Gopez.
I thought the plotting of the SM/WW Annual was a bit choppy, sort of hard to follow, with subplots added and removed as feints, and with the Doomsday virus being so haphazard in its potency that I don't quite understand if I should be worried.
Action Comics Annual #3 re-adds another wrinkle into the many moving parts of this mega-arc - the Brainiac-possessed Lois. Now there are a couple of nice moments in this issue and one very good Lois moment, but overall I felt more befuddled about the overall plot after reading this issue. Now I suppose that it will all come together in the end. But the biggest thought I had after reading this was that I couldn't wait for Superman:Doomed to be over.
With the wide palate of the artists on board, the book has a sort of rushed hodge-podge feel to it. The individual pages are quite nice but together, bouncing from one style to another, didn't help my feelings of mild confusion.
And after reading Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1 and this, I still had another Superman:Doomed issue on my pile.
The book opens nicely with some Aaron Kuder art pages showing just how trapped in her own body Lois is. I have been waiting to see Kuder's version for Lois and I am very happy.
I love Lois' tenacity as she tries to break out of this psionic cage Brainiac has placed her. We see how trapped she feels. We see her fighting, trying to bend the mental bars. And we hear just how angry she is for having to live all of this, experience it all, and be part of it despite not consciously doing it.
I keep going back to the original story where this possession of Lois happened ... the investigation of The Twenty, which started 5 years ago when The Collector initially came to Earth and infected 20 people with psionics. Is this mega-plot the culmination of 5 years of manipulation by Brainiac? Will we ever learn?
In the background, Batman has organized a group of people involved in recent Brainiac and Superman stories in hopes of stopping the Coluan. It has become clear that Brainiac is the major threat here. And without Superman, Earth is in trouble.
So Superman villain Harrow (from the Tower) released Superman villain Doomsday from the Phantom Zone by Superman villain and Phantom Zone inhabitant Dr. Xa-Du. But it turns out that Brainiac was already in The Tower's IT and was manipulating these events so that Doomsday would infect Superman and make him fly off the planet. Because Brainiac wants Earth intact but wants Superman off it.
Whew ... that is one crazy plot for a 12th level intellect. How many things needed to go right for it to even happen?
And then things could have gone wrong. What if Superman lost to Doomsday? Or died of the infection? What if Superman lost control and destroyed the Earth? What if (like Ghost Soldier says) Superman won't leave Earth?
Oh yeah ... Dr. Xa-Du is part of this story.
He hasn't been seen in this arc since Batman/Superman #11, released in the last week in May! Back then, he was dragged out of the Zone to help the heroes. He told the heroes that Doomsday broke out of the Zone on his own and Xa-Du wants to help re-cage him/kill the infected Superman.
But here ... after wondering what he has been doing this whole time ... he is trapped in some energy cage. And now he isn't talking about helping the heroes at all. He is doing villain talk here. He can't wait for Superman to kill everyone so he can escape and be a bad guy.
He seems like such an after-thought now. I was hoping for something more here.
This issue's main plot on Earth is Superman and heroes fighting the coma-probes or some sort of advance fleet from Brainiac.
Superman is completely Superdoom initially. But then he runs into the Martian Manhunter. And somehow J'Onn is able to use his mental powers to put a psionic wall in Superman's mind. And this telepathic block somehow puts the Doomsday virus into remission. Superman is normal again.
So is this an actual disease attacking the body? Is it a mental problem?
But this flip-flopping of Doom to Normal to Somewhere in the middle is confusing.
But the virus is too harsh for telepathic blocks. So how about tugging on the heart strings?
The Ghost Soldier brings Baka to the surface. Despite Superman being infected by the Doomsday virus, he looks normal here, and Baka can touch him directly without dying from a killing field.
Glad to see Baka again. Glad that Superman's mind and feelings can overpower the Doomsday persona. But things were so out of control that Superman left the Earth. Superman's friends - Lana and Batman, etc - couldn't get him to become normal. His significant other - Diana - couldn't get him into remission.
But Baka can?
Can you see why I don't quite grasp the magnitude of the Doomsday virus or the threat it represents?
Unfortunately, the next page Superman is back to Superdoom ...
Hey ... remember Dr. Xa-Du is here.
Well somehow Batman has a great plan. They will use Dr. Xa-Du's technology to turn the Kryptonite in the air intangible, whisking it away, so that Superman can defeat the virus.
And to use his tech ... for some reason ... Harrow has to physically beat him up.
It somehow works. The Kryptonite leaves Earth (explaining how it happened last issue mid-fight with Diana).
At last ... the good moment.
Superdoom confronts Brainiac-Lois.
And somehow, Clark and Lois connect and talk on a mental level, a sort of meeting in the minds. It just happens. In one tiny thought bubble we hear that Lois finally smashes out of her cage and is able to talk to Clark with her telepathy. (Man ... I would have loved to see a panel of her smashing the cage. That is a big moment.)
There is this nice moment, showing maybe some smoldering CLois love? Clark takes her hands, amazed at how much she fought Brainiac. Heck, she defeated him by breaking free.
It is a very nice moment. It made me miss the Lois/Clark relationship.
But we follow that scene up with another moment which was hard for me to truly understand.
Despite being Superdoom, Superman so loves Lois that he sends the Doomsday killing virus to decay the Brainiac infection in her body. That is some tight control of something that before this was uncontrollable. I suppose it shows how much he cares for Lois. But it also makes me wonder about this condition all over again.
And ... let's not bury the lead ... she knows Clark is Superman. While still telepathic, she is free, and she knows.
I want a human Lois. So please remove the powers.
But will they leave her with the knowledge?
And then ... yet again ... another turn on the Doomsday virus. Batman's plan does work. The Kryptonite leaves the Earth. And somehow ... somehow ... the removal of that let's Clark completely suppress the Doomsday virus. He is back 100% and with Krypto ends up smashing the landed Brainiac army to bits. Look, the people love him! They are happy he is back.
Just last month, pre-K-bomb, the virus was so out of control, he was planning to leave Earth anyways! He was near gone then! So why should the removal of the Kryptonite alone do this??
I just don't understand the clinical condition of Superman. Page to page, panel to panel, he is either a 12 foot tall spiked demon or a normal guy or a mix. What is happening???
Maybe this is my problem? But if the core plot, this infection, is treated haphazardly, I can't get into the conflict.
At least ... at least ... I got some fine Lois moments.